The B.C. Government has selected Morneau Shepell to develop a free mental health counselling and referral service for post-secondary students across the province.
The Province said that Morneau Shepell will provide on-demand, immediate referral and counselling support for all public and private post-secondary institutions in B.C., which it said will support almost half a million students. It added that it has made a three-year contract with Morneau Shepell, budgeted at $1.5 million per year.
“Mental health is an issue our government takes seriously,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Post-secondary students have told me there is a gap in mental health support services. The stress students feel at university or college can be significant, and can lead to serious isolation and potentially deadly outcomes. I am proud our government is responding to this call to action by creating a place for students to reach out for help 24/7.”
According to the B.C Government, the introduction of this service will be the first time that all students in the province will have 24/7 access to services on campus and in the community.
“Many students don’t come forward and ask for the help they need because of the stigma that still surrounds mental health issues,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “This service will meet young people where they are at and provide them immediate access to someone to talk to, without shame or judgement.”
The Province adds that the service is part of an ongoing plan to address mental wellness in B.C.
“Improving mental health in schools is an integral part of government’s actions outlined in A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s roadmap for making the system of mental health and addictions care better for people no matter where they live in the province,” said the Provincial Government.
It added that the new service is still in development, and plans are in place to engage with post-secondary institutions and students before it launches this spring.